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The money saving app
Carl-Nicolai Wessmann has helped Norwegians put aside 43 million kroner the last year using an app he developed.
– Can you tell us a little about how the idea for Spiff came about?
– A fellow student from BIs BBA programme and I were looking for things that might be missing from the bank and finance sector. We both had experience from banking, and we saw an opportunity to develop a user-friendly product to help people save money. We named our first product Lettspart (i.e. easily-saved). Our goal was to make it very easy for people to save a little money on the side.
A little extra cash is a little extra freedom: the freedom to make choices beyond deciding which bills to pay this month. A little extra cash means more opportunities and less stress.
Studies show that economic worries are one of the highest stress factors in peoples' lives. The idea is to set aside a little money at a time. Our product helps people get into the habit of saving, and makes you feel more free. Our product has been on the market for about one year. It has helped more than 15 000 Norwegians save more than 43 million kroner in that year alone. Most of Spiff's users are about 30 years old, three women for each man, and over half of our users save as couples. The most important factor for success is saving with friends and family – and sharing together towards a common goal. Social saving keeps people motivated and helps them reach their goal together.
– What are the biggest challenges facing your product right now?
– Two things: Growth capital and access to bank infrastructure. We need capital to grow, to build the foundation for Spiff as a user platform in Norway. Not many investors in Norway are willing to invest in user platforms or fine-tech. We received an offer to take Spiff abroad, but we wanted to be the best at home first! The lack of funds in Norway is a critical factor for us.
Our product works. Our app was ranked as the best bank and finance app in Norway (Play Store and iOS app store). The challenge is gaining access to bank infrastructure. Bank operations are strictly regulated. But banks also use their market power to keep new operators out of the market. That hinders innovation, and consumers lose by it.
– We heard about your recent attempt at crowdfunding. How did that go?
– Better than expected! We developed the crowdfunding platform on our own, and we set the minimum investment very low, at 1000 kroner. That brought 409 new owners who invested 3.4 million kroner all together. We beat two crowdfunding records in Norway: the number of investors and the number of female investors. Our other investors have invested much more than that, but we wanted our users, who understand our product, to be a part of Spiff's future.
– What advice would you give to others with your background who think they have a good business concept?
– You need to want this more than anything else in the whole world, and you have to believe in your idea. You will encounter many forces that work against you. If you don't really believe in your concept, you will never manage to run the gauntlet.
Research on start-ups shows us that it takes an average of seven years for a start-up to succeed, so you really need to hang in there. The other thing is to answer the phone and meet new people.
Find people who believe in you and believe in what you are building, and get them involved. Facing things alone is difficult, so building a network of supporters will make the journey worthwhile.
Most important of all: Make sure it is something you really enjoy doing.